Before I became a mom, I knew certain things would change, but I didn't know exactly how those changes would alter my day-to-day life. I quickly realized that many of those changes simply modified my idea of "normal." It was normal not to sleep and it was normal to get puked on by a tiny human and, well, it was normal to do all the weird things every mom does when she's cooking. When you adjust to life as a mom, what you do in order to accomplish what would otherwise be "easy" tasks, becomes strange and odd to most, but completely and totally normal to you. Oh, motherhood, you wonderfully weird life choice, you.
With a daughter who is constantly on the go, my life as an already busy college student got even more chaotic. I quickly find myself with absolutely no time in my day to do simple, routine tasks, let alone things I had an interest in. If I tried to do something for myself, my daughter would want to do something (or, you know, anything) else. If I tried to do something as simple as the laundry or cleaning or cooking, my daughter would want to "help," which, while sweet, was ridiculously ineffective. Fresh and newly folded clothes being thrown across the room isn't exactly my idea of "putting clothes away."
Strangely, and thankfully, once you adjust your routine and learn how to get things done, while simultaneously caring for and engaging with a tiny little mini-you, things are relatively easy. That doesn't mean they're not weird, though, and when it comes time to cook dinner, I've realized that nearly everything I do in order to make a meal is, um, strange, including the following:
You Only Use The Back Burners To Cook
My kid grabbing a pot of boiling water and dumping it on herself is one of my ultimate fears, so there's no way I am going to cook anything on a front burner. I don't trust her curious hands, so if that means I cook in a slightly-terrified state, well, so be it. Safety first, right?
You Make Cooking A "Game"
I don't know about you, but my kid wants to be involved in all the things. That means, me simply cooking a meal by myself is, in no way, OK. In order to keep my kid preoccupied and create the illusion that she's actually "helping," I make cooking something of a game. She can go throw empty boxes into the recycling; she can put certain produce back in the fridge; she can count how many cups of whatever I'm using. She gets to be engaged (without making a mess) and I get to continue cooking without someone screaming at me. Win-win.
You Find The Time To Take A Nap
There's nothing like sneaking in a quick 20 minute snoozer before you have to tend to the stove again. This ability, of course, depends on a few other factors. Hopefully someone is around to watch your child while you shut your eyes. It's probably a good idea that you take a nap only if something is on low or in the oven and not, you know, boiling. Still, I don't know too many people who take the opportunity to cook as an invite to catch a nap, unless their moms, of course.
You Talk To Yourself
Now, I personally find myself doing this often, even when I'm not in the kitchen. Sometimes it's just easier to collect and decipher my thoughts (especially over my daughter's yelling and loud playing) and figure out what is going on and what needs to be done and where I'm at in my day, if I talk out loud.
You Take The Time To Exercise, Too
If exercising is the name of your game, and you haven't had enough time to go to the gym (I mean, who does) incorporating a quick work out into your cooking routine is just good common sense. A little squat while you get whatever is at the bottom of the fridge? No problem. Using a can of tomatoes as a weight? Sure, why not?
You Let A Tiny Toddler Help You Cook
Godspeed to all the mothers out there who are brave enough to let a tiny child help you with dinner. Obviously, some meals are better suited for this choice, than others. Still, if you really stop and think about it, it's kind of odd that anyone would entrust a child with meal prep.
You Eat As You Cook
Most mothers are well aware that if they don't get a few bites in before the meal is served (or even ready), they may not be able to eat, at all. I'll have devoured half a meal before it's actually finished, which is totally normal, right? I mean, who says your meal has to be completely prepared before you can indulge.
You Clean While You Cook
While it might seem counterproductive to clean while simultaneously making a mess, I am convinced that cleaning as you cook makes everything easier. Most chefs are told to "keep their station clear" when cooking in a kitchen, so I've now considered my kitchen my station and there's no way I am going to let things pile up and get out of hand.
You Hide Vegetables In Other Foods
Mothers have to be the only people who spend a significant amount of time trying to find a way to inconspicuously hide vegetables in other foods. I mean, broccoli stuffed inside a chicken thigh is normal, right? Using a little bacon to hide the fact that my kid is going to have some green beans is a good call, right? Don't answer that, it's working so that's just how I cook, now.
You Provide Commentary While You're Cooking
Just like a sport's announcer, I'm calling out every cut and stir and addition and taste, so that my kid can learn about different foods and smells and tastes and how to prepare food, in general. It's fun, I won't lie, but it's also pretty hilarious. I mean, I'm the Bob Costas of my kitchen.